Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Aggression in the Martial Arts

Throughout the years, many martial art schools state that some of the main reasons of learning martial arts is to actually become more humble, relaxed and to be less aggressive. Although martial arts does provide this to an extent and after many years of training hopefully it should start to show, it is some peoples views that martial artists can also develop more aggression.

Take the following example. A new student starts training and after a couple of lessons of learning basic techniques, his told he will start sparring. Really nervous as its his first time, he does not really try any techniques he has practised, instead just stands there taking many controlled punches as his sparring partner decides to go light on him. This carries on for the next few lessons, but his sparring partner strikes him harder and harder in a bid to make him counter. Knowing that the beginner has to start throwing punches back, his teacher shouts, “hit him, hit him”. After a few more lessons of the same punishment, the beginner decides that enough is enough. However many times he gets hit, he makes up his mind that he shall also start hitting back, hard. His aggression increases immensely and as the weeks go by, he learns that he has to also strike back himself in order to save taking any punishment.

You may have been in this predicament or know someone who has. Someone who goes from being non aggressive to be becoming someone who does not take any abuse from anyone and uses aggression to overcome others.

Obviously for self defence situations, he would probably find that he shall be able to take care of himself but in the long run has the aggression he has built through training and sparring done more worse than good. Is today’s martial arts training producing bad people instead of good ones which is what the old masters intended?

Comments on this subject are welcomed by all.


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Zyaga said...

You inspired me to write an article about this topic, based off of yours. You can find my article here:

Keep up the great work, really enjoy your posts!

Anonymous said...

club's that make new student's fight after just a few lesson's have no idea! and should not be allowed to teach. in any real club you don't fight an till 6th kyu, which is 1-2 years training. the biggest problem is there are to many cowboys out there who get their 1st dan and think they are sensei's, they are the reason karate gets a bad rap.

Lori O'Connell said...

There are a lot of negative attachments to the word 'aggression.' For me, the martial arts shouldn't be about building aggression, but about building confidence, both physical and mental. An important part of it is knowing when it is appropriate to fight back. This means never starting or escalating a fight (as an "aggressive" person would do) and only fighting back when you have no other choice. But when you do fight back, you do so with confidence and conviction, using force effectively, but only as much as is necessary to nullify the situation.

In a competitive environment, on the other hand, a martial artist should always fight fairly and have a good attitude towards him or herself and fellow competitors.

Anonymous said...

i have been in martial arts training for over 9 years, and in all my years of training (starting at 9 years old) i have not seen any evidence of increased student agression. martial arts not only teaches self defense but also takes some of the fantasy out of fighting through sparring, enabling the student to be relaxed and under control rather than angry and filled with rage. Not one of the students in my dojo, since beginning karate courses, has gotten into a serious fight.

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't know what to think about it. I've always loved martial arts because I think it's beautiful. But, sometimes it seems like it's all about 'beating people up' and showing off your skills. I know this isn't what Martial arts were intended to be, but I'm just being honest. Does anyone have any advice on that?

MARKS said...

Martial arts can sometimes seem like it is just about "beating someone up" or winning in sparring/competition etc. This is a common feeling and everyone at some stage feels it. When one understands and ACCEPTS though, that there will always be others who are better, then this feeling and the pressure of always winning slightly eases. This is a difficult subject.

Anonymous said...

My first degree assignment is "aggression." I am female and like to use yin fighting techniques. I suspect that the Master wants me to learn to use yang techniques. Where do I begin?

KarateStudent said...

KarateStudent("KS") on Sensei{?} Lori O'Connell, Grandmaster Rick Rockburn, Ph.D.:

Sensei? Lori O'Connell strikes [no pun intended] KS as portraying what MARKS suggests, ' ... what the masters intended.' KS especially likes Sensei O'Connell's statements about building qualities of confidence and conviction, both mental & physical. See KS's 1-Step Sparring Comment [to come] at MARKS post, "Sparring Mistakes and Progression."

Grandmaster Rick Rockburn's comment [on MARKS , "The Lunge Punch for Self Defense"] strikes KS as having developed a highly sophisticated way at approaching conflict, the pyschological element. KS took a quick visit to his website / blog. Just like we want to develop a lot of physical skill on fighting, GM Rockburn has studied 'skilled' mental strategy and its ramifications.

As far as rank and file karate instructors and student's go, KS's aversion to sparring, etc. has a bleak following among the Tang Soo Do (TSD), karate community. I don't know if GM Rockburn's intelligence & theories would be appreciated by most--suspect not.

When people ask about TSD's fighting characteristic versus other martial arts, KS likes to joke, "MMA has 'ground & pound;' TSD has 'pound & pound!'" A a general rule, TSD school's practitioners view an element of aggression as a good mental attitude. And how many times have we heard sports commentators [MMA constantly] say, "... Wow!, that guy who did so well, he was really aggressive, the opponent wilted, etc., under the onslaught!" The commentators mentioned here and MARKS have questioned otherwise.

The APPLIED fighting problem for karate fighters is that we are down with the rank & file, some rough, tough instructors too who demand you prove yourself, promotions, etc. KS thinks he has seen (TIC) Diago "NIGHTMARE" Sanchez's cousins at his TSD school. We need a workable approach to Diago himself along with his Nightmare cousins.

As a prelude to KS's Comment addressing the Classical Karate Defense to the Manny Pacquaio Opponent, see KS's Comment [to come] on the Pyung Ahn Hyung--Forms of Peace. KS's comment will appear at MARKS post, "Martial Artists Being Aggressive."

Grand Master Rick Rockburn said...

I was taught that the Martial Arts falls into three catagories; health, sport and realistic self defense. there is no wrong approach to studying Martial Arts--as long as the learner learns the knowledge he/she is seeking, then knows how to use it.
Rick Rockburn

Master Rafael Ramos said...

I started my training in “self-defense” back in the late 70s, while in the US Military; Ranger, Special Forces, and French Armed Forces Commando School. However, more than just to defend myself, I was trained to kill quickly and without provocation.

Years latter, in the early 80s, I commenced formal Martial Arts training with Grandmaster Rickard W. Rockburn. Sparring was a small part of the training; I sparred couple of times with some of Grandmaster’s Rockburn top students, and couple of times with the Grandmaster himself. However, I was never pressured to fight or to a position where I felt compelled to score a hit against my sparring partner. Grandmaster Rockburn knew when to stop the session, if necessary—for his objectives were always to ensure that the technique being taught was properly learned and, thus, properly applied.

My teacher was quick to recognize that my instincts were always to go for a kill, and, it was clear to him that aggression was a part of my life that did not needed to be foster; mastering of self-control and self-disciple, therefore, were addressed in every new lesson or new technique being taught. I became a more calm and tolerant person, as a direct consequence.

Over the next 26 years I encountered many circumstances in which I was forced to inflict serious injuries to others. However, violence and/or aggression were never a driving force or a motivational agent needed obtain a response to being attacked; finding calm and re-gaining self-control after delivering deadly blows against my opponent were always most important to me.

I recently became a Master in Shaoling Kung fu, under Grandmaster Rockburn. This leads me to point-out one true fact “there are no bad students, only bad teachers”. Violence and aggression were a major part of my prior background training, which made me a violent and aggressive person before I commenced martial arts Training, yet that is not what I was taught by my teacher.

A student of the martial arts should seek to be humble, relaxed and to be less aggressive, because he is mastering deadly techniques. But the teacher needs to know how to foster such qualities in the student. It is said that when the student is ready the master will appear; well, I must say to you “when you believe you are ready do not fallow just any master, but seek to follow a good teacher”.

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